You might think there are little or no advantages to having Bipolar Disorder. But in this blogpost, I want to briefly tell you a few of the things I have learned from having Bipolar Disorder, being officially diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, and beginning treatment for Bipolar Disorder.
It would seem that even the darkest clouds of Bipolar Disorder can have a silver lining...if you can learn something from it. And believe me, you can.
1) Life is a broad spectrum of reality.
Perhaps it is a good thing to live in the temperate middle latitudes of reality. But during my many years of living with untreated Bipolar Disorder, I learned that there other regions of reality, the gray Arctic cold of depression and the sweltering hot skies of the Tropics. This realization has helped me to understand humanity better, both for the creative aspects of my life and also in it's practical relational ways. But it is important to note that I was unable to use those realizations in a truly constructive way until I sought and gained treatment for my condition.
That last sentence is specifically written for people like myself who are creatives that feel treating their condition will destroy their view of reality and their artistic ability. It is also written for people who think that Prozac and other meds will make them bland and unattractive to others.
2) Aristotle was right. Human Beings are social animals.
There is a big difference between "alone time" and "isolating". A world of difference. I know that difference now. That doesn't mean I have mastered my desire and madness of isolating or that I ever will. Frankly speaking, I haven't. But I have learned that even though I recognize the need for people to have times of solitude, reflection, and alone time, we are all essentially "social animals".
When we isolate ourselves from the rest of society we hurt ourselves. I can only say this based on my own personal experience, but I know that the terrifying and destructive aspects of isolating are one of the worst effects of Bipolar Disorder. At least for myself.
3) I am not the only one.
I am not the only person with my condition. Truth be told, I have come to the amazing conclusion that more people have mental/emotional issues than people who don't.
Why is this? It's because we live in a crazy society. Stop and reflect for a moment. Do you actually believe that our dizzying pace of society, with the ever maddening desire to advertise and consume products that often are not truly necessary, is good for mental health? Do you honestly believe that our implied caste system, our divisions of race, our treatment of large segments of the greater society aren't symptoms of a sick way of life? Do you really believe that images of the "good life" that often are puny, fake, and distorted do not have a deleterious effect on our population as a whole?
4) Together we can overcome this.
People with Bipolar Disorder, substance abuse issues, and other mental/emotional issues can greatly overcome these issues by coming together to help, aid, and assist each other. Populations that make the decision to work together, to collaborate to overcome societal and personal problems, can more easily overcome them.
We all have issues. None of us is perfect. Don't you think it's time we come together, in both small groups and as a population as a whole, to improve ourselves and our society?
5) I matter. So do you.
I am not worthless and neither are you. We all are creations of God. We all have something to offer. We all have something to offer each other and something to gain from each other.
We are more than the sum of our parts, both individually and as a society.
Those of you reading this who feel you are worthless and have nothing to offer yourself or anyone else, take heart, because you do.
Those of you reading this who feel that some people other than you are worthless and have nothing to offer, either for themselves or others, have a lot to learn. Like how to be a human being.
I feel sorry for you and for the people you come into contact with.
Perhaps you are more ill than people who think they are worthless.
6) We all can contribute.
7) These three remain...faith, hope, and love.
This is taken from the Bible, I Corinthians 13:13.
Even though sometimes I feel damned...I have learned to have faith in God.
Even though sometimes I feel hopeless...I have learned that if I have faith, then then hope abounds.
Even though sometimes I totally despise myself...I have learned that if hope abounds, then I can learn to love myself and others.
If the above statements confuse or offend you with their oxymoronic quality, all I can say is:
WELCOME TO MY WORLD.
And sadly, the world of so many others.
But together, we can heal, we can improve, we can overcome, and we can learn to live again.
So may it be.
Amen and amen.